New Podcast Episode: Working With a Media Trainer – Featuring Paula Rizzo

In this episode of the Smith Publicity “All Things Book Marketing” podcast, Mike Onorato talks with media trainer and former news producer Paula Rizzo on the best ways authors can work with media trainers, how to practice and prepare for an interview and some tips on the best practices when working with the media.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Hello and welcome to the All Things Book Marketing podcast. I’m your host Mike Onorato. Joining me today is Paula Rizzo an Emmy Award-winning television producer, bestselling author, and a media trainer and strategist. As a former senior health producer for Fox News channel for more than a decade, she produced segments with a range of top experts including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. A media veteran for nearly 20 years, she’s also worked in local news in New York City as a producer for WCBS, WPIX, and WLNY. She coaches experts and executives to perform better on camera and produce their own videos.

Mike Onorato:
She’s the founder of listproducer.com and author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Highly Successful, and Less Stressed, we can all do that, and Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You. She’s also a co-creator of Lights Camera Expert, an online course geared towards helping entrepreneurs, authors, and experts get media attention. She also teaches Becoming A Video Star, a virtual workshop that empowers experts to create their own compelling videos. Paula has been featured in major media outlets like foxnews.com, Business Insider and The Daily News. She’s a contributor to mindbodygreen.com, entrepreneur.com and Thrive Global. A veteran speaker, she’s presented at MA Conference for Women, HOW Design Live, New York Women in Communications, National Association of Professional Organizers and many others. For more info, please go to paularizzo.com. Paula, welcome. That is some bio.

Paula Rizzo:
Oh my gosh, well thank you for having me. I’m so excited to talk about everything.

Mike Onorato:
Talk about everything. This is great. Paula and I got to know each other when you were at Fox News and in fact I think it was one of those things where we met every year at book expo and I always look forward to our meeting and a good conversation about not just the publishing world, but our observations of the people walking around book expo.

Paula Rizzo:
Oh for sure. Yes, absolutely. Always a good time.

Mike Onorato:
Indeed. So let’s get right to it. Just thinking about your current role, what are some things authors should be aware of when they’re working with the media trainer? I guess maybe another way to ask that question is what do they need to do in advance or do to prepare?

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah, well I think a lot of times people think about it too late instead of too… It’s never too early to start thinking about how are you going to put your book out into the world, how are you going to get media attention for it? Even when you’re in the proposal stage and being able to say, “Okay, how can I build up an audience, how can I start doing video, how can I start building people?” Even doing media. I mean, I was doing media when I started a blog about list-making, so I was sort of an expert, but I didn’t have a book, it was a side hustle from my regular job and I knew if this was ever going to be anything I needed to get myself out there and seen as an expert.

Paula Rizzo:
That is the biggest misconception for authors is that they’ll do media, they’ll wait until their book comes out and then it’ll be time. I always tell people it’s too late. I mean it’s not so, so late, but you should be building that way before. So what can you be doing to make sure that your skills set is really polished so that you’re able to talk about what you know in a succinct way, you’re able to feel comfortable on camera talking to media, talking to anybody really about what it is that you do, what you want to get out into the world.

Mike Onorato:
It’s so funny you say that because one of the conversations I used to have with authors in regards to national media, they would say, “Well, I want to go on the Today Show, I want to get on Good Morning America.” And we would say to them, “We need to build your tape platform up by doing more smaller local things first and have you hone your message and perfect it.” Even if it’s an author who’s written several books, they haven’t yet spoken about this new book or this particular book, and we have to get them to sort of built up. Is that a fair-

Paula Rizzo:
Oh, 100%. It does take time and that’s the thing, I think there’s a lot of pressure on publicists to get get you the media you want right away. But the truth is, is that you as the author, you as the expert really need to make sure that you’re ready for it. As someone who has booked thousands of experts, a lot of them being authors, a lot of times those people were not ready for national news. They just weren’t there yet, and guess what? You don’t want that to be your first time ever doing television because it’s scary, right? You want to make sure that you feel confident.

Paula Rizzo:
Of course you’ll be a little bit nervous, but you won’t go in there feeling like, “You know what? I’ve already done this a little bit. I already sort of know what I’m going to talk about, I’ve practiced.” You go in there and you really hit it out of the park. So thinking about it like that, it is helpful that this is a really long game. This is not something that just the day the book comes out, then you care about media, you need to start caring about media way before. A great point too about people who have already been authors, I mean, I media trained tons of authors who have already done several books and been in the media multiple, multiple times, but they’ve not yet talked about this book. It’s important to be able to talk about your book in a way that serves the audience as opposed to serving you.

Paula Rizzo:
This is what I would see a lot of times with pitches when I would receive pitches, they would be about the author. Unless you know you’re a superstar, unless Beyonce comes out with a book, nobody cares so much about the author, right? It really needs to be about what does this book do for the audience, for the reader. What am I going to get out of it if I put this book in front of my audience? So putting that producer lens on everything, that’s really what I tell people to start thinking like, “Why does the producer care, why would the people watching that show even care about this kind of book?”

Mike Onorato:
Right, and now you’re speaking my language with creating a pitch and it has to be, what is the benefit for the audience, not so much the person. It’s what is the message that they’re going to deliver. I love what you said about you don’t want the first time you’re speaking about a book to be on a national TV outlet, because that could be, there’s great upside, we both know there is tremendous downside and if that doesn’t go well and if you [crosstalk 00:06:57] then you’re sort of dead in the water.

Paula Rizzo:
Oh for sure. Then let’s say a publicist helped you get that hit, then the publicist is trying to mend fences on the other ends. They like, “Oh my gosh, so sorry about that.” You don’t want to put anybody in that position, you don’t want to be in that position. Because the ideal situation is that you become a subject matter expert and that you can go back, that producer will come back to you again and again anytime that topic that you talk about comes up. A lot of the people that I booked again and again, I already knew who they were, so when the book came out it was always like, “Oh yeah, we like that guy. Sure bring him in. He’s got a book now let’s talk about that.”

Paula Rizzo:
So you want to be known already by these producers, you want to already have a foot in the door so that it’s much easier because producers get so many pitches. I mean, you know Mike, there’s tons and tons of pitches that are going out and being followed up on and all day, every day you get hundreds of pitches and you want to break through because especially with books, I used to have a pile of books on my desk that I couldn’t even get to, right? Even though I loved books and I wanted to look at them, there was just no time. So you want to really make sure that you’re able to get in and that I can see it and say, “Oh, I already know this person. I already know they’re great on camera. I already know they’ve contributed in the past.”

Mike Onorato:
You mentioned video before and in terms of thinking about your media and your message and all of that, even at the proposal stage. What are some ways that authors could incorporate video and is it a formal thing, is it a video shoot, is it something they can do on their phone, for example? How can they best utilize video?

Paula Rizzo:
Video is such a powerful way to get in front of your audience and get them to know you and like you. So then you become that person that they fall in love with, so when you have book they’re like, “Oh, of course, I’ll get their book.” Right? They kind of don’t even care what the book is about, they just like you, so that’s the ideal situation. When you have a video on your homepage, the engagement goes up because people just stay longer, it’s such an engaging form of media that it sucks people in and it doesn’t have to be professionally produced. It’s nice if it is, depending on what your budget is, how much time you want to put into it, but you could just be doing this with your iPhone.

Paula Rizzo:
I tell people all the time, use your iPhone, it’s a great camera. It’s better than some of these other cameras that just spend tons of money on and then not know how to use properly and you’ll feel like, “I just spent 500 bucks on something that I’m not going to use.” So use your iPhone, one of the courses that I teach that you mentioned Become a Video Star, walks people through how can you use your phone, how can use your computer to create videos that are compelling and get people interested in you? What do you share, what do you talk about? It’s a good way also to get or get a read on the room if you’re working on a book. Because you could see what’s really getting traction. When I talk about this topic, people seem really interested in it or these are some really good examples other people gave me that I didn’t think of that now I’m going to include in the book.

Paula Rizzo:
So it could be a really good way to put yourself out there as an author to say, “Hey, I’m doing this, this is happening, this is my subject that I’m doing.” I did that with my last book. As I was writing it, I was doing videos, I was blogging about it. I was putting some information out in the world, number one, to tell people, “Hey, I’m doing another book.” But number two, because I wanted to sort of get that feedback in real-time, and now that we have social media, you can find out what other people think about your stuff almost instantly.

Mike Onorato:
We talk about pitches, I wonder if there’s going to be video pitches where we’ll just send a producer a 25, 30-second video of us publicists pitching a book and they can sort of, kind of taking it to the next step there.

Paula Rizzo:
I would love that. Yeah, I think that’s great. Yeah.

Mike Onorato:
What is the best way for an author to practice for an interview, and let’s say for our purposes it’s a TV interview, but I’d also like to get your take on either a radio… Radio, wow. I’m dating myself. Either a radio interview or even a podcast interview.

Paula Rizzo:
Yes. People still do radio. Radio still [crosstalk 00:11:18]. Yeah. The way I teach media training is a little different than everyone else. I tend to teach it as just like a communication skill, right? The way that you do talk to the media is a little bit different than if you’re on a stage. If you’re on a stage, and I’ve worked with a lot of speakers, they’re used to working up there being on for a half hour, 45 minutes, an hour, you have a long time to tell your stories. In the media, you really need to shrink it back and it’s the same thing if you’re talking to somebody one-on-one, right? You’re to a colleague, maybe you’re pitching somebody, you’re telling them about your book, whatever it is, you need to be able to gauge, how long can I actually talk about this topic given the venue.

Paula Rizzo:
The way that I teach it is something called the accordion method. The idea is that you should have a short, a medium and a long answer to everything you talk about. So that if you’re thinking in headlines, that short answer should be a headline. For instance, I talk about list-making, right? Both of my books are about list and productivity. So if people were to ask me, “Why do you love lists so much?” My short answer is, “Lists changed my life.” Right? It’s a short answer, it’s a headline. You’ve gotten something out of it and then if there’s more time, I’ll add to it. “I was disorganized, I wasn’t getting things done. I was much more successful at work than I was at home.” That’s my medium answer.

Paula Rizzo:
Then the longer answer I could talk about a list-making technique that I use, how I make my list every night before I leave my desk. So the next day I come in and I can hit the ground running. That’s sort of how I look at that, answer could be pulled out like an [inaudible 00:13:00] depending on where I am. But the idea here, the most important part for practicing is that you do have to listen to yourself, you do have to record yourself answering questions. So whether it be just audio recordings on your phone or if you want to do video, it’s important to watch it back. Because you won’t know what you sound like, what you look like unless you do and people sometimes are surprised. So you want to make sure that you’re giving value upfront. But I would say, thinking headlines, right? How could you give an answer in a headline that the person that you’re talking to gets something out of it, even if you get cut off. So you do get some value in there right up at the front.

Mike Onorato:
Boy that’s gold. That is absolute gold. I love the idea of having a short, medium and long answer at the ready, because oftentimes authors are sort of caught off guard, something happens, they thought the segment was going to be eight minutes or something and breaking news happens, [crosstalk 00:13:54] happens and then they get cut, they get truncated, whatever it might be. I remember when I first started in this business and I would try to prepare authors, I would say, “Always have an answer ready about your book. If you’re ever caught in the elevator with The New York Times book review editor or the today show producer or an NPR producer and you have them for 30 seconds, think of an answer, and have that at the ready.” But I love the idea of having three different ones based on your time constraints.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah, for sure. I mean it’s just so powerful. The other thing too is a lot of times people will say, “Oh, well let’s watch this interview that I did, but this was a bad interview. The interviewer asked me bad questions.” I always say, “You had bad answers.” It shouldn’t matter what that person asks you, even if it’s so off the wall and so off topic, you need to know your stuff so that you can maybe give a little bit of an answer on that, then move into what you really want to talk about, right? Pivoting to be able to get to the message points that you are there for. The thing here is that for the most part, the anchors, the producers, they want you to do well, they want this to be a good segment, right?

Paula Rizzo:
This is not going to be a gotchas segment for the most part, depending on what your topic is. But they want you to succeed and so you need to come and make sure that you have some really rich content so you don’t get thrown off. But it does come with practice, right? That’s not something that you do right off the top. But podcasts, great way to practice, radio, fantastic way to practice because they give you more time. It’s not the same as television. Television is so constrained by time, they literally have a minute thirty for this segment and they are going to keep to a minute thirty and that’s it, then they’re moving on whether or not you’ve given the five other things that you wanted to talk about. No one will ever know.

Mike Onorato:
How important is it to do your research prior to, how important is it to, how important I should say, is it to watch the show, listen to that podcast before you go on to get a sense of the flow and to get a sense of how the host interacts with the guests?

Paula Rizzo:
Oh, for sure. You have to, you just want to go in prepared. You want to feel like you already know it, right? I had two clients, they’re editors for The New York Times and their book came out and they were booked on The Early Show with Gayle King. So I was like, “We’re going to watch and see what the chairs look like.” Those chairs are swivel chairs, which are terrible for television. I don’t know why they do it, but they do because people sit in those chairs and they swivel and it looks awful on TV. So I told them, “You will sit in that chair and you will not swivel.” And they were like, “Okay.” Just things like that. Look at the way the shot… You can see your full body, make sure you’re wearing nice shoes, right?

Paula Rizzo:
Because you’re not going to just see the top of your head, just your head. Also, how do they ask questions? One of the things that Gail does quite often with authors is that mostly, for fiction, she’ll read the first few lines of the book and then she’ll ask, “Why did you start the book that way?” So even though their book was not fiction, we practice that because I said, “What if she does it? I don’t want you to be thrown off.” And she did it pretty consistently with several authors. She didn’t do it with them, but I just wanted them to be prepared, see how they answer questions, how long are the segments that kind of thing.

Paula Rizzo:
I had another client who was a fiction author and she was doing a show and she watched to make sure it was… I forget where it was, Michigan or something, and I was like, “Just get to know who the anchor is.” It was a local show, see what the person likes. She found out that the anchor really loved Dallas, it was like his favorite show, he’d talk about it a lot. So she used the characters of Dallas in one of the examples that she gave and he loved it. He was so excited about it. It got him engaged, I got him into it and they actually asked her back another segment for something totally unrelated. It worked to her advantage to know what that anchor was excited about.

Mike Onorato:
What a great idea that is, just knowing that and all that preparation can help. The less surprises you have the day of the interview, the better. But you’re going to be [crosstalk 00:18:05] to your point and you’re going to be ready to go and you want to make a good impression. You don’t want anything to surprise you like the swivel chairs. But to have that sort of common ground of a TV show or a sports team or whatever it might be can often help to bridge that connection and make you feel-

Paula Rizzo:
Absolutely, and it makes you stand out a little.

Mike Onorato:
Yeah, for sure. How soon before an interview should you engage a media trainer? So if I have an interview scheduled for February 25th how far in advance do I want to schedule training, is the day before, what’s the most optimum sort of timeframe for that?

Paula Rizzo:
I don’t love the old school way of doing media training, which is typically, it’s all in one shot, three hours, five hours the day before, the week before real quick. That works for maybe people who have already been doing media right? Who have already done it, who have some experience in studios, but they just want to work on, “Okay. I just want to talk about this book specifically. Let’s just do a little bit of running through it.” That’s okay. But for someone who’s completely new, I like to work with people for three months ahead if we can. Because what I do is that I like to space it out, I give homework in between. I want you creating your own videos, I want you practicing because not everybody is going to be doing media at that time. Do you know what I mean?

Paula Rizzo:
When I work with some of the big publishers or with PR agencies, they’re actively pitching the person while I’m doing media training, which is good because then we can tweak, right? I can watch and see, “Okay, well you’re going to be on this show. Let’s prepare you for that show and then watch it back and see how you can improve or what went really well for the next time so that you can build on each performance.” But if someone’s completely new, I like to start way in advance so that you start to use these skills in your everyday life. The way that you answer questions is going to be very different, right? Once you’ve done some of this media training, some of this thought process around, “What’s my short answer, how am I going to use the accordion for this?” Right? And doing podcasts, and doing radio, and really getting yourself out there to practice because there’s really nothing better than actually doing it.

Mike Onorato:
Wow. I love that idea of three months before, that’s great because then you’re able to really work with somebody to hone them into and to correct, if you need to course correct as we say. And you’re right, we are pitching people as it’s going on, but it can also help to refine that pitch. Maybe your answer isn’t where we need it to be, maybe your answer is all over the map. So having the ability to work with that long can help tweak those answers, get that messaging right and then makes it easier for… Easier. Makes it a more straightforward pitch or approach for the producer who is working on your behalf.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. Oh, for sure. I put my producer hat on and as we do the media training, I’m always thinking what would make a great story. So if somebody says something that might not already be in their pitches or they might not have thought that was a cool theme to start talking about, I’m always like, “Hey, this is great. You never mentioned this before.” Right? “This is gold. Let’s take this, you should be pitching this.” Then give that to their publicist or whoever to say, “Hey, this is a novel idea. Nobody else is talking about this.” And she mentioned it and I know she didn’t mention it before because she didn’t think it was a big deal. That’s where a lot of the gold comes from too. To be able to have time to talk through and get to the good meat of everything. But there’s a lot of stuff that you talk about that maybe you think wasn’t worthy of a segment, but could be.

Mike Onorato:
How should your preparation, we touched on this briefly, but how should your preparation for a podcast interview for example, differ from a TV interview? I know the timing is obviously much different for television and maybe to use the example of local TV versus national. How should your preparation differ for those various mediums?

Paula Rizzo:
Always know who the audience is, because you want to make sure that you’re serving them as much as you possibly can. If you know it’s a podcast for authors, your answers are going to be different than if it’s a podcast for the general public. You might be talking about different kinds of things or you might be able to talk about different themes, different ways, so always ask that. Always ask who’s the audience so that you can tell your questions to them. Listen to the show, especially with podcasts, you want to get to know the host because you spend more time with them than you do for a TV segment.

Paula Rizzo:
For a TV segment you come in, you see the anchor for half a second, they talk to you in between maybe a commercial and then you do your segment and you’re gone and that’s it, it’s over. But for this a lot of times the podcastor spend, a half hour, 20 minutes, half hour, an hour with you. So you want to make sure that you also get to know them a little bit too. To prepare, I would listen to one or two a couple of days before just to at least get in the mode of understanding who their audience is, what they talk about most, so that your answers will really be key for them.

Mike Onorato:
As a producer, how did you prepare for interviews prior to an author coming on?

Paula Rizzo:
I’d always do a pre-interview, so we would always, even before we book the author, right? We would get a pitch, like the pitch, think it was pretty good, I need to talk to that person. First I want to see video, if it’s for TV, absolutely. Because a producer will know within the first 15 seconds if they want to bring you in or not. They’re looking for things like, is person succinct, do they have command of what they’re talking about? Right. Confidence, do they look good on camera? Then from there to be able to then talk to them on the phone, and I would always want to do that, because I want to know how does this person react to questions off the cuff, right? And see if I’m going to put this person with my anchor and they’re going to have a back and forth, how are they going to do, if they do ask a question that comes from [inaudible 00:24:14] field.

Paula Rizzo:
Are they going to be able to pivot, are they going to say, “Oh, I don’t know.” There’s been a lot of people who I pre-interviewed that I didn’t then book because they would say things like, “Oh, I’m not sure I have to look that up.” “I’m not really sure I could find it for you and send it to you.” That’s never a good answer because if that’s the answer you give on TV, that’s a dead air answer. You got to come up with something, right? And that’s part of the training too that I do with people, it’s like, “What if they ask you a question you don’t know the answer to, what do you do?” Right? That’s the point, you have things you can talk about that you do know and so you want to make sure to pivot to that. Right away I could see if people were ready or not, just from that pre-interview process.

Paula Rizzo:
Then from there, we would work on the segment together, it’s very collaborative. It’s not always exactly what the pitch is, right? Sometimes the pitch is like, “Okay, this is awesome. Let’s just do it as is.” And sometimes it’s like, “You know what, we kind of just did something similar, but I really like this author and I think this is good. Let’s do it.” One time I remember I had an author who they pitched her book to me and I wasn’t as interested in the book, but she had done a TEDx talk that was really interesting and we ended up having that be the topic that we worked on. But she’s still got a mention that she was the author of this book, so it worked for everybody. It’s just that the segment doesn’t always have to be exactly about the book.

Mike Onorato:
Oh, I’ve been in that chair when you get the pitch, so you’ve expressed interest. Okay, great, step one. You do the pre-interview and great step two, and then we’re waiting, and we’re waiting, and we’re waiting and as publicists, if we’re not on that call, that pre-interview, we don’t know how it went. It’s great, we’re moving forward or it’s radio silence, and then we know, right?

Paula Rizzo:
Sure. Right, right.

Mike Onorato:
It’s funny because a lot of us in on the publicity side either have worked in media or have worked with media that we begin, I think the good ones begin to see and sort of anticipate the questions you will ask and then we ask them and we see how they are. We’re able to prepare them accordingly, “This is what you’ll be asked.” And this has to be prepared in advance to make, A, your jobs easier, which is our job of course, but B, to hopefully drive that success rate for that author, get them on drive that high and so we begin to like producers.

Paula Rizzo:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). If you’re talking about magazines or newspapers, that call is the interview. You don’t get a pre-interview, you just get on and they just start talking to you. A lot of times now too, they do a lot of questions. I found this with my last book, Listful Living, that a lot of editors send questions in email and they want you to write your answers. Which for me, as someone who loves to talk, I’m always like, “Can we just get on the phone?” Because otherwise I find that the answers then are just like exactly the same every time, whereas if you have a conversation with somebody, it’s a little bit easier to tailor them or make them a little bit more interesting.

Paula Rizzo:
But you know what, authors, I’ve worked with a lot of them and they love to write, right? So they want to sometimes write out the answers, and I do say that too, “Look, if we’re going to practice, here’s a bunch of questions that you may be asked. If you want to write out your answers, you can. But then from there, you really do need to start doing it without looking at notes.” And to just get the gist of like, “How would you say this, if someone asked you this on the street, what kind of answer would you give?” You wouldn’t say, “Wait, let me get my notes.” You know this stuff, it’s your book.

Mike Onorato:
What about in the case of breaking news, when you’re not able to do, for example, a pre-interview or if it’s the events are going so fast that you just need to get an expert or a resource there. What do you do in that situation?

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah, I mean that’s why being ready before you need to be ready is so important, because that can happen too, right? What if you’ve written a book about a subject that is super hot in the news right now and you are the only expert who can talk about this, or the only scientist who has done this research, right? You’re the person they’re going to go to, they’re not going to find somebody else. So you just need to show up, what I would do is have bullet points, right? And just think through, “Okay, if I get through these three things, here’s the three most important things that if I leave that interview, having said these three, I’ll feel good about it.” If you get to two of them, that’s cool too, but to at least go in with the intention of saying, “Okay, here’s what’s most important.” So that you’re not just relying on what will they ask me, you’re already thinking through, here’s what I want to make sure that everybody knows, no matter what I’m asked.

Mike Onorato:
That goes back to your point earlier about the person who said that they asked me bad questions.

Paula Rizzo:
Exactly.

Mike Onorato:
It’s not having the ability to pivot and bounce and we’ve all watched enough TV and we’ve all watched enough, for example, the presidential debates where sometimes the candidate won’t even answer the question that’s asked, [crosstalk 00:29:22] go off a different tangent. It’s having the ability to do that.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. But there’s a balance to that too, right? I do use that as an example because that happens so often with candidates, so often with politicians where it’s like, “Did they even answer the question, where are we now?” You never want to go that far, right? You want to be able to be respectful of the person asking the question to give them maybe a little bit, but then you move on to what you want to talk about, right? So there’s ways to do that without completely ignoring them. But there’s some politicians who do it really well, if you watch interviews with Bill Clinton, he is actually really great at it. Just giving a little bit and moving on to what he wants to talk about.

Mike Onorato:
What were some things that you looked for in a potential guest? I know you’ve touched on that, the ability to answer questions on the fly and that kind of thing, but were there two or three things that you needed to see in order to book somebody. And conversely, are there things that you saw that were just say, a hard pass on your end?

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. People who were too salesy or too promotional, it was always a no, because there’s not enough time for a TV producer to break you of that habit, right? That’s why there’s media trainers, that’s why there’s publicist to be able to help you to say, “Hey, we need to talk about the audience.” This needs to be what the audience gets out of this, not the person who’s like, “Well, in my book if you buy my book, it’s all in the book.” It’s too much, right? So that was always a no, because we just knew we didn’t have enough time to help them be the best version of themselves on air.

Paula Rizzo:
But we’re always looking for people who look good on camera, it’s a visual medium. You’ve got to look good. You’ve got to be looking in the camera the right way, engaging and in that first 15 seconds, it really needs to be something that is compelling. Something that’s interesting that you say, “I’d really like to get that person on and see how they do.” Or, “I want to learn more about this. This is very intriguing. It seems like this person is a real expert here.” Right? That confidence to come across as a teacher, really. I always talk about television as a public service, I think it is. It’s a public service to be able to tell people how they can live a better life no matter what it is, right? No matter what your topic is. So I always look for people like that.

Paula Rizzo:
Also, even beyond just seeing the video, when you are talking to the producer in that pre-interview, have a collaborative mindset, right? Because otherwise the producer is like, “Oh, this person’s going to be difficult to work with.” You always want to go with the flow. Even if you think, this is the segment it should be and they want it to be something else, just go with the flow. Because if you don’t, then there will be no segment, right? You won’t get the clip, it just won’t happen. So go with the flow, let them lead you. You have your expertise, you’ll be able to infuse it. But just don’t fight the producer. If there was somebody who was a little too much, that was always like, “Okay, I don’t need this. I’m going to move on. We’ll find somebody else.”

Mike Onorato:
I love the notion of not being too promotional, and we sometimes will tell our authors, “When you’re sitting in the chair. Don’t say things like in my book or if you read my book.” Sometimes is so hard to fight that temptation because you’re there, you’re in the chair, you’re alive on whatever network you’re on and you want to get that across, but you can’t. When you do, it just comes across as [inaudible 00:32:52] too much, almost like a telemarketer calling your home and you’re put off by that.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. Yeah. A lot of times authors don’t want to do it anyway. You know, that’s what a lot of times the biggest fear is like, Oh, I don’t want to look too salesy. I don’t feel like pushing my book in this way. It’s like you don’t have to, if your content is good enough, it’s going to sell itself. Right?

Mike Onorato:
It is. And it’s true and, and it’s, it’s knowing what you know, how to sort of weave that into a conversation and not make it sound like you’re reading from a PowerPoint. And I think the really strong authors can do that. It can do it well, but I wanted to touch back on something you mentioned earlier and I, and I, and we sort of didn’t pull it back and that is the idea of not just being able to, to train somebody to speak on camera or in front of an audience, but just in, in being able to sort of present better, to speak better and more, more concise, if you will. That is such an interesting notion because I think it can apply to any author that not just the author that is fortunate enough to have a book that can be considered for national media.

Paula Rizzo:
For sure. I use the term media trainer because it’s what people know, but really it is a communications thing, right? It’s really being able to help people communicate better if they’re on a panel, at a conference, or if they’re doing a networking event, or speaking to somebody one-on-one for clients. I have people who are my clients who’ve said, “This training has helped me sell better to my clients because I’m able to be more succinct about what I do, how I do it, what I can do for them rather than rambling. I know exactly what my bullet points are. I know exactly what the headline should be.” And if you have time that you’re on the phone with somebody for a longer period of time versus you see them in the hallway at a conference, you know exactly how much you can get out in that time. It really changes the game on how you can communicate with anybody.

Mike Onorato:
How have your worlds collided or coming from a media background and now being an author yourself, did your experience in being a producer kind of inform you as you were writing?

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. It’s so interesting because I love being able to work with authors because I know what they’re going through as an author, I get it, I understand. But also then on the other side, I know what it’s like to be the producer getting a million pitches and saying like, “Oh gosh, what is this? Another person who wants me to promote their book.” So as I was writing this book, Listful Living, I was able to really think through, “You know what, what would be a good pitch for media, what could be a little bit different than everything else that’s out there?” And it really was helpful to be able to think that way, know the game already as you’re even putting the book together and I find nonfiction is easier, I think to be able to get out there. Fiction of course has its own challenges, but there are ways to also weave in stories, ideas. I think Jodi Picoult is great at this, she writes fiction obviously, but her books are very current event-driven. So she gets on and she talks about racism or she talks about whatever the theme is of her book.

Paula Rizzo:
It’s a really great way for her to get out there, but it’s good to look and see, how are other authors successfully doing this, what kind of shows are they on, what are they talking about? It’s not that they’re always talking about just their book, I never stopped doing media in between my two books. There’s a about a four and a half year gap between when my first book came out and my second book and I never stopped doing media, I never stopped pitching myself. People will call me because they now know I’m the list lady, right? Then come, they have to do list questions, right? That kind of thing. Which is good, that’s a good thing. But I think that’s a big misconception, is people think, “Okay, I’ll just do it when the book is out.” You really have to consistently be doing that and be the expert, really be there all the time.

Mike Onorato:
It’s a dance to perfect like anything else. I would argue it’s one of the more important ones to perfect because if you’re not good and you don’t produce there, pun intended, then you’re not going to get back. Producers know, they watch other things, they see other things, and so they’re aware if you flame out in an interview, that’s a problem. It’s going to really hurt your chances for book two, or three, for whatever, those books can’t happen.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah. Also, maintaining the relationships too, because I know all too well is a producer, people come and go, they never say thank you, they’re gone, and that’s that, right? But the people who treated the producers like people were always the ones that we were happy to bring back on, right? You’d be surprised what, a thank you note will do. People never send thank you notes, they only come after you when they’re interested in something or they want something from you. You never want to be that kind of person and media is no different.

Mike Onorato:
Just like networking when you’re trying to find a job, right? You should always be [crosstalk 00:38:03] looking for when you need one. Well Paula, this was great. I so enjoyed our conversation, it was great to talk with you again. For those listening, a reminder on Paula’s two books, Listful Thinking, Using Lists to Be More Productive, Highly Successful, and Less Stressed and Listful Living: a List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You. For more information, go to paularizzo.com. Paula, I hope to see you at book expo this year, if not, let’s figure out a time to get together and chat and compare war stories.

Paula Rizzo:
Yeah, I will be there. So we’ll set up our usual time. I’d love to see you.

Mike Onorato:
That sounds great. On behalf of Paula, this is Mike Onorato, saying thank you for joining us on the, All Things Book Marketing podcast and we’ll see you next time.

Speaker 1:
Thank you for listening to this edition of the Smith Publicity, All Things Book Marketing podcast. To reach us and learn about our many book marketing services, visit www.smithpublicity.com or send us an email to, info@smithpublicity.com.